Popular lifestyle blogger's home is about functionality as much as style

In 2007, when event planner and designer Julie Blanner needed a way to update her business website during the offseason, she added posts and tips featuring her home, her family and her effortless entertaining ideas. She didn’t expect anyone had noticed.

“One day Martha Stewart’s people contacted me and asked me if I would like to be paid to integrate some product into my website,” she says. “I wondered how they found me, looked into things and learned about analytics. I realized I had developed quite an audience.”

Blanner’s stylish and informative blog featuring her tips, recipes, family life, travel experiences and home décor ideas became so successful she sold her event-planning business to become a lifestyle blogger. Her website garnered national attention in magazines like House Beautiful, Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens, HGTV Magazine and others.

The home she shares with her husband, Chris, and their three daughters reflects her passion for design and the practical philosophy that guides her decisions. “As our lives got busier and more hectic — we had three children in a short period of time — I realized that design doesn’t combine with function nearly enough. It came naturally to me to blend the two, to find ways I can make things more functional and practical for our family while maintaining a beautiful aesthetic.”

At first glance, a living room with a white rug and white sofas in a home with three active children doesn’t seem practical, but Julie Blanner made it so. “I try to simplify my life in any way I can. We have an outdoor rug in the living room that’s soft enough to use indoors,” she says.

“I’ve literally dropped red wine on it and cleaned it up with water. We vacuum it regularly. If it needs deep cleaning, we just take it outside and hose it off, let it dry and bring it back in. The sofas are slipcovered. If you have a decent fabric they’re easy to clean with water.”

In another bid to add functionality, the Blanners converted an upstairs bedroom into a laundry room. “ I like having laundry upstairs. It seems like it increases effort to get all the clothes and sheets downstairs, wash them, dry them, fold them and then take them all back up. It seemed like so much more of a chore than it is now.”

Another chore buster Julie installed in the garage. An attractive board set with pegs to hold brooms, mops, dustpans and more, makes it easier to grab a tool and go when it’s time to clean.

Perhaps the room that showcases the Julie’s innate understanding of style, tradition and practicality would be the bright breakfast nook just off the kitchen, which is actually more of an everything nook.

When the Blanners bought the house, a lone futon stood guard in the room on a dull linoleum floor. The space with had no insulation and no personality. “We had insulation blown in, added wainscoting and had a light fixture installed, plus we carried the wood floors into the space. It’s perfect for our family of five, but we can extend the table to 14-feet to accommodate guests,” Julie says.

Julie Blanner describes her style as minimalist, so the objects in each room are either practical or meaningful, each piece placed with intent. The large image of Momo, the placid cow by artist Carylon Killebrew that anchors the nook isn’t simply a statement of style. “When I see it, it takes me back to my southeast Missouri roots, to the fields, the farms, and the cows we pass by on our visits,” she says.

Her conversational blog further illuminates the design principles she puts into practice in her home in St. Louis. It also shows the Blanners’ in-process renovation of their lake home near Branson.

Popular lifestyle blogger's home is about functionality as much as style

“Our home in St. Louis is Tudor style, while our lake house is more modern. I believe in decorating for the home design in itself, so you’ll see the two styles, traditional and modern, in the photos,” she says.

We asked what advice she would give to people moving into a new home. “I always say, it’s great to redesign once you’ve lived in a space and you see how you utilize it. It gives you a really clear picture of what your needs are, so you can think about how can you blend those needs into your design,” she says.

Today, Julie’s blend of design and function has made life easier for her family, especially as they have spent more time at home this past year.

“It’s nice to come home to an organized, beautiful, peaceful home,” she says. “I used to utilize a lot of color in my home, but as our life became crazier, I became more of a minimalist. I like warm, neutral, calming colors. You know, the world is crazy enough as it is. I want our home to be an everyday retreat.”

Julie and Chris Blanner

Family • Julie and Chris Blanner have been married for 13 years. They have three daughters: Adalyn, 10; Aniston, 9; and Isla, 7.

Home • Clarkson Valley

Occupations • Julie writes a lifestyle blog, Julie Blanner Entertaining, Recipes + Design at julieblanner.com. Chris is a primary care physician.

Family • Julie and Chris Blanner have been married for thirteen years. They have three daughters, Adalyn, 10; Aniston, 9; and Isla, 7.

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